Cadel Evans (BMC), hot off his overall victory at Tirreno-Adriatico, carries hopes of a strong GC performance into next week’s Volta a Catalunya, where he will have the support of American Taylor Phinney.
Despite a stage win and the overall title at Tirreno-Adriatico, Evans said he doesn’t consider himself the favorite.
“It’s a different style of racing in Spain,” the former world champion said in a team release. “It’ll be more for the pure climbers. I’m going good on the short climbs, but these are longer and steeper. Tirreno-Adriatico, with a few hard finishes, short climbs and a time trial, was a bit more suited to me.”
Phinney is also lining up for his second start of the 2011 season along with Americans Brent Bookwalter and Jeff Louder.
At HTC-Highroad, former Tour of Georgia winner and specialist climber Kanstantsin Sivtsov will be leading the team’s GC hopes in Spain’s oldest stage race.
“It’s a very mountainous race this year, and with no time trial, the climbs will be what decides the outcome,” said HTC-Highroad sports director Allan Peiper in a team release. “This is a good chance for Kanstantsin to show us what he can do in a leader’s role, although he’ll be able to count on strong support in the hills from his teammates Caleb Fairly, Craig Lewis and Patrick Gretsch. Gatis (Smukulis) is riding really well, too, this is his stage race in preparation for the classics and we expect him to get in a few moves.”
Catalunya also sees HTC-Highroad’s Martin Velits return to racing after a bad crash in Paris-Nice.
“He’s dealing well with the pain, he’s been doing up to five and half hours on the rollers, so he want to tests his strength in a race scenario,” Peiper says. “There are plenty of opportunities for breakaways, because none of the stages barring the last is really flat, and our riders will take every chance they can to get in on those moves as well.”
BMC for Volta a Catalunya (March 21-27)
Brent Bookwalter (USA), Chad Beyer (USA), Cadel Evans (AUS), Mathias Frank (SUI), Karsten Kroon (NED), Jeff Louder (USA), Taylor Phinney (USA), Tim Roe (AUS).
HTC-Highroad for Volta a Catalunya: Caleb Fairly (USA), Patrick Gretsch (Ger), Craig Lewis (USA), Frantisek Rabon (Cze), Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Byl), Gatis Smukulis (Lat), Maritn Velits (Svk).